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Certain Supporting Casts Outshine Leads in Musicals

Posted July. 02, 2009 08:11,   


In musicals, certain supporting cast has outshined the leads at curtain call.

Actors or actresses who received enthusiastic applause for their supporting roles in musicals that ran in the first six months of this year can be categorized in four types.

○ Funny characters

“His looks and pleasant character make me think that he stars in this musical (“Dreamgirls”) just for the sake of playing Jimmy’s role,” an Internet user said of actor Choi Min-cheol, 33, on the online booking site’s bulletin board for audience reviews.

For Choi, who played Jimmy Early in “Dreamgirls,” the musical seems to be an opportunity to display his custom-made suit. His unique appearance coupled with wily acting and flamboyant stage manner often make the audience crack up in laughter. Due to his acting, Jimmy’s character has stood out.

In the Korean musical “Laundry,” which describes the tough Seoul life of illegal migrant and part-time workers, a foul-mouthed old landlady lives in a multi-family home in a poor neighborhood. The production turns into a tear jerker after her physically disabled daughter is introduced.

Actress Lee Jeong-eun, who has been playing the role since last year, adds a veteran’s touch to the musical, whose leading roles are played by young actors. Many audiences believe Lee is really an elderly lady but she is only 40.

○ Hero’s friends

Many supporting roles that have attracted major attention are friends of a hero or heroine. A case in point is Tanya and Rosie, friends of Donna in “Mamma Mia.” The unreserved talk by three-time divorcee Tanya and the single feminist writer Rosie are particularly popular among middle-aged women.

Since the first show in 2004, different actresses have assumed the role of Donna but actresses Jeon Soo-gyeong and Lee Gyeong-mi have always played Tanya and Rosie.

In “Don Juan,” Don Carlos is a heavy supporting role as Juan’s close friend and adviser. The character requires serious acting prowess and the ability to sing 14 songs. Newcomer Cho Hwi, 28, who has played multiple roles in other musicals, has his first fan club thanks to the Don Carlos role.

○ Explosive singing

Kim Gyeong-seon, 30, overwhelmed the stage as Mama in “Chicago” and Roberta in “Zana, Don’t” with her powerful singing. Before the opening of “Chicago” in 2007, Mama was a role sought after by middle-aged actresses with large physique.

Kim, who worked part-time as a “sparring partner” for leading actors, had never dreamed of getting the role. The U.S. production picked her for the role, saying she had the very voice it was looking for.

○ Dual roles

“The Brothers Were Brave,” a Korean musical about two brothers who struggle over a winning lottery ticket, is funny yet touching. Aurora, a worker at a law firm, provokes boisterous laughter with her impertinent but suggestive gesture. In Part 2, she appears as the brothers` mother and elicits tears from the audience.

Lee Joo-won, 35, who has played the role since the musical’s debut, has performed the role so well, finding a replacement is considered impossible.